CHILDLINE councillors have met in Warrington to discuss the importance of helping vulnerable children across the country.

Dozens of volunteer counsellors and staff gathered at a conference with founder Dame Esther Rantzen at the Peace Centre in Great Sankey.

Along with head of Childline, Shaun Friel, and NSPCC chief executive, Peter Wanless, teams took part in workshops and explored how they had been affected by their experiences helping children.

Dame Esther said: "Childline was founded more than 30 years ago to listen to children and help them through the most difficult times of their lives.

"Three decades later, and the world has changed immeasurably, but the principle remains the same.

"By reassuring children that we are here to listen to them in their hour of need, we can help them get through their darkest moments and find the help and support they need.

"But, we rely on our wonderful staff and volunteers to do so, because without them, we are nothing.

"Events like this give our volunteers a chance to have their say, and know they are being heard.

"They know we care about them and their wellbeing, and the young people who speak to them pick up on that confidence.

"By working together with our Childline volunteers, we are empowering young people around the country so they can have better childhoods, and for as long as children need us, we will not stop listening."

Shaun Friel, head of Childline, opened the conference, and took part in a question and answer session where he addressed Childline counsellors and praised the importance of their roles.

Shaun said: "Our counsellors speak to thousands of children and young people every year who are living through often unimaginable experiences, and the role of the counsellor requires them to stay strong and resilient, and help the person on the other end of the line.

"However, the emotional effects of these conversations don’t always end when the contact does, and we need to ensure that our counsellors have the support they need to manage those feelings.

"We know the subjects our volunteers and staff regularly deal with can be distressing, and we do everything we can to support their mental health and resilience.

"With events such as this, they have an opportunity to shape what more we can do to help ensure our Childline counsellors have the strength and courage to continue to help children and young people today, tomorrow, and into the future."

To find out more about volunteering for Childline, go online.